PlayReady is all part of Microsoft’s mobile strategy – but it's aimed at those who want entertainment on their phones, not spreadsheets. The corporation has gained some support from networks, such as O2-owner Telefonica as well as Nokia.

Jim Alkove, senior director of Technical Strategy at Microsoft’s DRM group gave us an update of where PlayReady is at. Alkove’s area of work within Microsoft gives more than a little clue about what PlayReady is designed to uphold – digital rights.

“PlayReady is about enabling a thriving marketplace of digital goods and digital content,” explained Alkove. “In order to do that, we fundamentally believe a technology like PlayReady is [key]. PlayReady enables consumer access to a broad range of content types, music video and games.”

Devices that support Microsoft PlayReady can play back content protected with Windows Media DRM. For audio and video content, support is broad, including WMA, WMV, AAC, AAC+, enhanced AAC+, and H.264.

Nokia partnership

The technology was announced at Mobile World Congress last year, while Nokia said last August that it was to support the technology in its Series 40 and 60 devices.

When we met with him, Alkove demonstrated PlayReady to us across the PC and a Nokia mobile, while playback licenses can also be acquired over the air. PlayReady’s key facet is that it is not dependent on other Microsoft technology being used, so it can be rolled out across mobile platforms.

Microsoft has designed PlayReady to be flexible on how content providers want to sell their wares as well. “PlayReady also enables a broad consumer choice of business model, things like subscription or purchase or rental,” adds Alkove.

“It’s a very seamless experience which is something we’ve heard very strongly for consumers and from service providers that they desired in a content access technology.”

Of course, the main reason for a mobile network to deploy PlayReady is to increase the amount of cash they can extract from their punters. But Alkove also feels there is a “tremendous opportunity” for consumers as well as service providers with PlayReady.

Microsoft says it expects broader device support during 2008. However, no other major manufacturers have so far jumped on the bandwagon. Other criticisms levelled at the technology include the non-interoperability with other Microsoft technology – both Zune and Plays For Sure devices are incompatible.